Men's soccer ties in OT
Battling into double overtime, the Colby men's soccer team earned a 1-1 tie against the Middlebury College Panthers on Saturday, October 3. Played during the Panthers' family homecoming weekend, the energy surrounding the match renewed the spirits of the Mules and lifted their confidence after a week of tough losses. The tie, placing Colby's record in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) at 0-4-1, marks a significant turning point in the season for the Mules; with the toughest stretch of their schedule behind them and a substantial tie under their belts, the men move toward their upcoming games with newfound conviction.
Bunkering down in the first half, both the Mules and the Panthers played strong defense to hold the score at 0-0 for the first 45 minutes. Although Middlebury had several chances on offense before the intermission, superb coverage by the Mules prevented the Panthers from capitalizing on their opportunities. Around the 35-minute mark, Middlebury player Jake Edwards broke free on the left wing, blasting a powerful shot across the penalty box and on goal. Not hesitating for a moment, senior goalkeeper Dan Marden stepped up to make the save, deflecting the ball out of the goal. Playing a crucial role for the Mules the entire game, Marden worked brilliantly between the posts, making seven saves in total. Aiding Marden were defenders Mike Baldwin '10, Nick Nowak '13, Ben Desmond '11 and James Westhafer '10, who formed the rock-solid base the Mules needed to keep themselves in the game. Continually rebuffing the efforts of the Panthers, teammates and coaches alike praised the work of the Mule defense throughout the match.
Starting out strong in the second half, the Panthers consistently bombarded the Mules with shots, leading to many frantic moments on defense. Although Middlebury finished the match with more shots than the Mules, Colby struck gold first with a goal in the 67 minute. As Duy Lyford '10 maneuvered through the defense, Donny MacMaster '13 knocked the ball across the penalty box. One-touching the ball off the crossbar and into the goal, Lyford pushed the Mules into the lead with about 20 minutes to play in the second half. Unfortunately, the unrelenting Panthers managed to capitalize on offense in the 80 minute. Scoring off of a header from one of their seven corner kicks, Middlebury player Rob Cole tied up the points off of the cross by Jake Edwards.
With neither team wanting to settle for a tie, Colby coach Mark Serdjenian commented that "both teams came out and continued to attack" during the overtime periods. Each side played strongly, and both defenses took control of the game as only one shot was placed on goal during the extra time. Additionally, the Mules' high level of fitness hugely impacted the overtime periods as it allowed the men to fully commit during the last 20 minutes. "In the world of ties, that was a great one," said Serdjenian after the game. Reviewed in that light, although not a win, the game allowed the Mules to finally hit their stride and find confidence.
Summing up the game, senior captain Doug Sibor praised the Mules, "We had a great performance from everyone who took the field," he said. Hoping to continue their strong play by building off of the momentum gained against Middlebury, the Mules travel to the University of Maine, Farmington on Wednesday, October 7 followed by a game at Tufts University on Saturday, October 10. The matches against Farmington, with a record of 3-3, and Tufts, with a record of 0-3-1 in the NESCACs, are regarded as tough but winnable games for the Mules.
As the Colby men continue to fight for their first win in the NESCAC league, the players realize their struggle to find offensive efficiency is crucial in their pursuit of success during the remaining games of the season. Judging from their efforts against the Panthers, it seems the Colby men are well on their way to that elusive victory.